Saturday, 20 February 2010

William Warham

We are all familiar with the traditional bearded image of Henry VIII as an old man and on his later coins that is how he is portrayed. However on his earlier coins he is portrayed in profile as a much younger, clean shaven man.

On this half groat (or two pence piece) minted, as the reverse tells us, in Canterbury (CIVITAS CANTOR) there are the initials W and A by the side of the shield. These letters are the mark of the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham (born c. 1450 and died 22 August 1532).

He was present at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520, was Keeper of the Great Seal 1502-4, Lord Chancellor 1504-1515 (and was succeeded in both those posts by Cardinal Wolsey) and, as already noted, was Archbishop of Canterbury between 1503 and 1532 (and was succeeded by Thomas Cranmer).

It is said that his favourite phrase was ira principis mors est - "the King's anger is death", a very succinct comment on the time he was living in.

Archbishop Warham, c.1527, by Hans Holbein the Younger